How to Deal with Mental Health Issues at University
When attending university, people are often unaware that it can become a breeding ground for a number of mental health issues.
That’s not to imply that university is necessarily a cause or an effect of mental health issues. The most common university mental health issues that manifest themselves at university generally, happen to be depression, anxiety and homesickness.
These are often born out of circumstance rather than an overall feeling towards the place that the students happen to be staying in. Universities commemorate mental health awareness through University Mental Health Day every year as well.
There are plenty of mental health issues that will affect a number of students and there are ways to combat them, whether as someone who is experiencing these issues or if someone you know is suffering from these issues regarding mental health at university.
Depression is one of the most common mental health issues that a student can come across. These issues usually come across after a feeling of uselessness, inadequacy and other mental health issues which can contribute to the overall feeling. Depression can have many ways to combat it, whether that be through medication prescribed by a doctor, counselling or sheer will-power, there are a number of ways to deal with it. From the outside, if you see a friend or family members struggling with this, the best thing for you to do is to be there for them as much as you can and to offer them support, assistance and a shoulder-to-cry-on so to speak.
Depression can manifest itself through feeling as though you are not good enough to complete the work that is set out in front of you or a feeling that the work you’re doing is not good enough. Every university will have an onsite counsellor or a member of staff that you can talk to about any issues that you may be facing, the university’s student union will be the best place to ask. These can be very beneficial for people to look into, and can also mean that you can have people on site who know your issues and know when you need them. With depression, it can stem from other mental health issues and also through situations that you find yourself in too.
If things are getting too much and you don’t feel that the university can help you, or you don’t feel comfortable speaking to the university, your friends or your family, then you need to speak to The Crisis Team or your GP. The Crisis Team is a team of people, ranging from psychiatrists to doctors and nurses. These people are trained to deal with issues such as these and will be happy to help you out where and when you need it. There will be numbers available online (table of important numbers at bottom of the article) and you should have them saved on your phone if you need them. You should also have anything else like The Samaritans saved on your phone, too, these people can also help you and are often made up of people who have been through similar issues.
The feeling that anything could be lurking around the corner and the sinking feeling that often goes hand-in-hand following an upcoming deadline. But the anxiety that comes with university, is something that isn’t easy to overcome and affects a number of university students in a number of different ways and a different scale of severity. Visiting university open days can make you feel more comfortable with your decisions, but sure to check everything on the day, some people don’t know what to do at a uni open day.
Some university students only suffer from a mild form, this in of itself can be something to keep an eye on as well, many students are a little too hard on themselves and anxiety in any form can be a worry for students, however in it’s worse form, anxiety can affect student’s sleep patterns, appetite and can lead to more severe mental health issues. Putting the extra time to research university degree courses, will help you with your university and course reassurance.
The NHS identifies anxiety as a feeling of unease, such as worry or fear, that can be mild or severe. Everyone has feelings of anxiety at some point in their life – for example, you may feel worried and anxious about sitting an exam, or having a medical test or job interview. This is a textbook case of anxiety and the ways around it can be the same as dealing with any mental health issue, you need positivity and a big will to get over this. Giving yourself lots of time to prepare and plan can reduce anxiety, knowing what university interview questions will crop up will give you some confidence, reducing any stress. Planning for an exam is another example, there are exam revision tips available, use these for your own benefit!
Surround yourself with friends, positivity, as little stress as possible and as many good things as possible to focus on as some students will be moving away to university. With anxiety, the issues can also stem from a feeling of inadequacy and also for a fear of the unknown and of failure. The thing that can help you is that getting into university itself is a difficult thing to do, and will often require you to have a wide range of skills and grades – this proves that you’re more than capable of being able to achieve the grades on the course that you need.
If this is becoming too much for you, then you should really go and speak to a doctor, they can prescribe some anti-anxiety medication for you and they can also give you some advice. What a lot of people do to help them with this, is meditate. In fact, music super-producer Rick Rubin (who is famous for his work with everyone from the Beastie Boys, Eminem, the Red Hot Chilli Peppers, Justin Timberlake and Kanye West all the way through to Black Sabbath), has said that meditation helps him with almost all areas of stress that he can encounter in his daily life, in an interview with Rolling Stone, he said that tantric meditation has helped him a lot in his career, he said: “Typically, I’ll wake up, sit up in bed, and do 20 minutes. When I wake up in the morning, usually the remnants of dreams are still very present in me, and it takes me a minute to get to be me again. I’m a little lost when I wake up. TM (Transcendental Meditation) helps me centre and ground myself. When possible, I do it again before dinner. Then the evening starts as more of its own time and not just a continuation of the busy workday. Although sometimes it’s a busy night.”
Homesickness is something that really only happens when you have been away for a long time and often when it is your first time away from your parents. We will have all spent time away for our family at some point in our lives, whether we were sleeping around a friend’s house, or because our parents were staying elsewhere that weekend, it makes no difference, however, the difference between being away from home for roughly fifteen weeks at a time, can be different from spending one night away.
The best way to combat feeling homesick at university is to keep your family and friends on your social media platforms. There are plenty of ways to stay in touch with family and friends. Use Skype, WhatsApp, FaceTime and the like and you’ll soon have a great communication web. Staying in touch is one of a few ways that you can combat homesickness, you can also go home during the weekends, assuming you don’t live too far away, perhaps applying to university that is not too far away from home could benefit you, use our UK interactive univerity map, enabling you to search for universities within a certain distance from a particular location, also by using our student city guides, it will give you a feel and understanding of what they have to offer and you can also go home during the term holidays, whether you go during the holidays or go home occasionally, you need to make sure that you make the most of it when you’re there.
You need to be dividing your time well and you also need to make sure that you gain some independence being away. Being away is also a gift, you can make new friends, you can meet new people and you can also have a good time with new people and enjoy the feeling of doing things for yourself. It’s not nearly as bad as you think it is.
Let’s not forget to mention, if living away from home doesn’t work out, then there is no problem with living at home during university.
Who Can I Call to Help Me?
There are plenty of services available to help university students mental health. We mentioned The Crisis Team before, but there are lots of helplines for a variety of different mental health issues, which we have listed below:
|Anxiety||Anxiety UK||08444 775 774 (Mon-Fri, 9.30am-5.30pm)|
|Mental Health Issues in General||Mind||0300 123 3393 (Mon-Fri, 9am-6pm)|
|Panic Attacks/OCD||No Panic!||0844 967 4848 (daily, 10am-10pm)|
|OCD||OCD Action||0845 390 6232 (Mon-Fri, 9.30am-5pm)|
|Suicide||PAPYRUS||0800 068 4141 (Mon-Fri, 10am-5pm & 7-10pm. Weekends 2-5pm)|
|General||Samaritans||116 123 (free 24-hour helpline)|
|Crisis Team||0845 038 0030|
|Alcohol Abuse||Alcoholics Anonymous||0845 769 7555 (24-hour helpline)|
|Narcotics Abuse||Narcotics Anonymous||0300 999 1212 (daily until midnight)|
|Rape||Rape Crisis||0808 802 9999|
|Eating Disorders||BEAT||0845 634 1414 (adults) or 0345 634 7650 (for under-25s)|
|Relationships||RELATE||0300 100 1234|
Mental health issues will always be a part of life, depending on the situations that you find yourself in. At university, you’ll soon see that there are plenty of people that will suffer from these issues, you may even experience them yourself. Make sure that you have the numbers to the Crisis Team or the Samaritans numbers and that you call them whenever you need them, don’t ever think that you’re on your own because you’re not. You have a lot of different ways to get out of these issues, and you’ll always come out stronger.